The new disc of 16th century English consort music, Four Temperaments (Avie AV2054), from the excellent viol group Phantasm, deserves an uncomplicated welcome. True, some confusion is sown by the booklet's efforts at tagging each composer with one of the "humours". But music and performances are consistently superb, bathed in the kind acoustic of a Norfolk church.
Pride of place in terms of time goes to an instrumental realisation of Byrd's four-part Latin Mass - not, I feel, exactly pukka as scolarship, though an excellent way of penetrating the music's quiet anguish and rapture. But for visceral excitements, Byrd, Tallis and the senior Alfonso Ferrabosco are easily outdistanced by the four samples here of Robert Parsons, a composer who drowned in the River Trent in 1571. The music's lines become majestically entangled; cadences process without any resolution; solemn musings suddenly switch to a dance or brawl: here is the 17th century's avant-garde.



Mai 2005


Geoff Brown

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